When Can You File a Lawsuit for Personal Injury?


If you suffer a personal injury, then that means it was caused by the negligence of someone else. When that happens, you are entitled to file a personal injury claim or even a personal injury lawsuit against the guilty party. This is necessary if you need to cover any expenses caused by the injury without having to pay them out of pocket. Expenses like medical bills, repair bills, and lost wages are all covered.

While you can file a lawsuit, you might not know when you should do so. Fortunately, a personal injury attorney can help to clear things up for you and offer you advice on when— or even if— you should file a lawsuit. If you do decide to file a lawsuit, then your attorney will be an important ally during that procedure. You can learn more at fasigbrooks.com/orlando.

Should You File a Personal Injury Claim or a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Technically you can file a personal injury lawsuit anytime after the accident occurred. However, you might not need to immediately jump to that option because a lawsuit should ideally be a last resort. Once you retain a personal injury attorney to help you, they will likely advise you to first pursue a personal injury claim rather than a lawsuit. Both a claim and a lawsuit are methods of getting the compensation you need but a claim is a far less messy and complicated option.

Personal Injury Claims

With most personal injury claims, you contact the at-fault party who then turns the matter over to their insurance company. You and your attorney will then be dealing with the insurance company for the rest of the process. You need to let the insurance company of the responsible party know that you intend to file a claim as soon as possible after the accident. Once you do file a claim, the insurance company will generate a claim number for your case and hand it over to a claims adjuster.

The adjuster will examine your case and come up with a settlement offer. The claims adjuster will need to find proof that the accident was caused by the party you hold responsible, that said party was negligent, and that your injuries are serious enough to qualify for a settlement. Meanwhile your attorney will have calculated their own settlement offer for your case. Once they inform the insurance company of their offer, the two sides will negotiate with the insurance company countering with the amount their claims adjuster came up with.

If the two sides agree to a settlement amount, then the claims process concludes and the insurance company will give you a release form and a check. Once you sign the release, the case is over and you cannot receive any further compensation. If the two parties disagree, then they can continue to negotiate until they agree to a settlement; if the two sides cannot reach an agreement, then you will have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

A lawsuit only becomes necessary when both parties cannot agree to a resolution. It is an unwanted outcome because it could lead to a trial which is expensive and time-consuming for both parties. Plus the results are unpredictable, which means that all of that time and money could be for nothing. Even if you are victorious, the expense of a trial may be higher than the reward.

That is why arbitration, aka mediation, is recommended instead. This is a process where a neutral third party called an arbiter or mediator, oversees negotiations between the two parties. It is like court but without all of the time and expense involved. The arbiter listens to the arguments from both sides and makes a decision that is final and cannot be appealed. An arbitration is a great alternative to a trial because it is shorter and less expensive, plus there are some types of arbitration where you are guaranteed to get some amount of money.

The Statute of Limitations

One big factor in when to file a claim or a lawsuit is the statute of limitations. This is the time limit you have to file after the accident has occurred. If you try to file after the statute of limitations has passed, then the court will reject your case. Each state has its own set of statutes for different kinds of cases, so you should find out for yourself, or ask your attorney, how long you have to file a claim or lawsuit. In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is four years from when the accident happened.

Contact an Attorney For Help With Your Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit

Whether you are filing a personal injury claim or a personal injury lawsuit, an attorney can be invaluable in helping you with your case. They can negotiate with the insurance company to make sure that you get a fair settlement that will cover all of your expenses and they will make sure that you file your claim on time before the statute of limitations expires. That is why you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after you have been in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another.